Ownership of a house in Thailand
Thailand Law Online: A building in Thailand as distinct from its land can be owned and transferred separate from its land. Buildings in Thailand, apart from condominiums, do not have any form of title deed document. As an individual immovable property it can be transferred separate from its land. This must be in writing and registered by the competent authority (i.e. the Thai Land Department).
Beware that the 'house book' or blue or yellow book (a Ta.Bian.Baan or Tabien Bahn) is an administrative document issued by by the local Administraive Office, not the Land Department, therefore this book is certainly not a proof of ownership.
When a foreigner buys a property in Thailand the land part can be sold under a leasehold agreement (as foreigners can't own the land) and the house can be sold separate from the land. This means that a land lease agreement is offered and a sale and purchase agreement for the house is drawn up, both specifying the terms of the lease and the terms of teh sale.
Both the land lease and house transfer must be registered at the Land Department.
When buying in a development 'off the plan' instead of a sale agreement for the house or construction agreement can be offered, however the building permit must be in the foreigner's name.
Often a lease for 'land and house' is offered, but this the least beneficial structure for foreigners and not the recommended long term structure for possession of the property (i.e. this is legally the weakest structure). To improve someone's interest in the immovable property a 'right of superficies' (the registered right to own a building upon someone else's land) improves the leaseholder's position on expiration or termination of the lease. Rights of ownership of a building upon someone else's land relates directly to the rights to use or possess someone else's land. You could lose your rights under a land lease agreement, but your rights under the right of superficies could remain enforceable.
The transfer procedure for an existing house in Thailand is as follows:
1. The parties must present themselves at the local land office to announce the sale. This is part of the official process and separate from the private sale and purchase agreement between the parties
If a party can't attend the land office (e.g. the foreigner is abroad) a proxy can be appointed. In this case the official land office power of attorney form (document Tor-Dor 21) is required
3. Documents required: Tor-Dor 21 (if applicable), building permit or previous land office sale agreement, Ta bian Baan, ID's of the parties (passport or ID-card)
4. The land office will issue 4 copies of the notification of the sale of a structure ( public notice), to be put up at the Or Bor Tor, the District Office, the Kamnan Office and at the building itself for a 30-day announcement (to see if anyone wishes to contest ownership)
5. After the 30 days public notice period the parties must present themselves again to sign the official land office sale agreement which effectively transfers ownership.
Proof of ownership of the house can be either the official land office sale agreement, as signed at the land office, or the construction permit in the owner's name.
Robert M. Spelde Partner and author for www.thailandlawonline.com Contact:email@example.com
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